“You might call data the new punk rock,” said Live guitarist Chad Taylor.
It’s true. Three members of the band Live, which sold 20 million albums in their ‘90s heyday, are getting into urban renewal and Big Data. Having formed Think Loud Development LLC in 2011, they plan to build a 100-Gbit fiber link across Pennsylvania to four data centers.
In order to make that vision a reality, Think Loud Holdings (which includes Live, The App to Save the World, Aurora Creative Group, and others) is helping fund United Fiber and Data (originally known as United Federal Data), which will build out a network between New York City and Ashburn, Virginia—providing a low-latency data pipeline that connects offices in Virginia to data centers owned by Wall Street.
The new 100-Gbit/s network, scheduled to break ground on March 1, will pass through Allentown, Reading, Lancaster and York—all in Pennsylvania—before heading into Frederick, Maryland and down to Ashburn, Virginia. In each of those four Pennsylvania sites, the team plans to build 20,000 square-foot data centers (at a cost of roughly $22 million apiece), with about four megawatts of capacity. Think Loud began the project several years ago in order to form a public utility, the band told The York Daily Record.
The United Fiber and Data network will avoid the traditional I-95 corridor, a more direct route used by many other networks. Storing data away from high-traffic areas—where there’s presumably a higher chance of terrorist attacks and accidents—simply made more sense, Think Loud executives told the Record. POP locations include 60 Hudson St. in New York City, plus 111 8th Ave. and 32 Ave. of the Americas—a familiar location for those who weathered Hurricane Sandy. Still, UFD claims that its network is located westward enough to avoid most natural disasters.
Live bandmembers Chad Taylor (guitar), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass) and Chad Gracey (drums) invested in the venture; Think Loud committed $20 million to the Reading site in 2012, on top of another $36 million spent in 2011 to acquire and renovate a 400,000 square-foot building in the area.
“The band members are dedicated to their hometown communities in Pennsylvania, and it is their intent to give back to this region that still supports them heavily,” William Hynes, founder and members of the board of directors for UFD, wrote in a statement.
Of late, there’s been a number of crossovers between technology and entertainment, including the rash of creative directors at brands like Polaroid (Lady Gaga), Intel (Will.i.am) and BlackBerry (Alicia Keys). It’s a much rarer thing, though, for rock stars to invest in infrastructure, rather than serve as the “face” of a brand.